It seems like ages since I have written a blog. It has been difficult to do so with all the travelling I have been doing and of course it is much easier to find material for the blog when I am on the ship as a cruise director. That was what the blog was always supposed to be, a diary of my life as a CD and, certainly, if I was to ask you I am sure that most would say the stories of life on a cruise ship and tales of disgruntled guests is what you enjoy and the reason the blog now has 16.1 million page views. So at the end of this month, the blog will return to its natural habitat and there will be no doubt lots to share with you as the Carnival Legend heads to Europe.

It is actually easier for me to write blogs when I am a CD, not just material-wise but because on the ship I have a pattern, a time plan. I write early in the morning while most guests are still asleep and dreaming of their next chocolate melting cake, and I write after midnight while guests are in the casino, at the Punchliner Comedy Club or gyrating in the nightclub trying to impress young men whose pants are down by their knees who in turn are being drooled over by flocks of cougars. Yep, I have found a way to balance writing my blog and keeping up with 34,000 people on Facebook as well as making sure I have lots of stage time and am accessible to the guests. Working from home is not so easy. It really isn’t.

Yes, on paper it sounds good. Some think it is a license to take loads of time off to watch The View or re-runs of CSI. Yep, the boss cannot see what you’re doing so you do what you want, have a two-hour lunch break. Take a nap and have mid-afternoon rumpy pumpy. Trust me, it’s all bollocks because I think I work harder and for longer from home than I do when I am on a ship. However, as I sit here in my underpants which, of course, if I did in the Miami HQ, wouldn’t go down too well with Susie in accounting. I can’t help thinking if working from home is the future for many jobs, yes, even yours.

With Eyepads and lap tops in most households these days, it means people can work from anywhere so does location really matter if the job gets done? If Carnival had everyone work from home wouldn’t more work get done? There would be no being stuck in traffic on I-95 , no lunch breaks, bugger all water-cooler gossiping about how Stephanie in marketing has terrible flatulence. And most of all, there is no getting ready in the morning. I get out of bed and waddle in my underpants straight to the computer and not having to dress for success each day would produce another hour’s work for the men and three hours or more for women. “What about meetings,” I hear you cry? Working from home, you couldn’t attend the meetings. “Bloody brilliant,” I say because the world including the world of Carnival has gone meeting mad and if you do insist in having meetings then we have Skype, of course.

I guess though it all comes down to if your boss trusts you to get the job done from home or not. One of the problems is that changing to working at home does mean agreeing to rules on interruptions. There have therefore been no high heels and suspenders moments but it wasn’t for want of trying, but my wife Heidi said the suspenders didn’t suit me, and the high heels were a health and safety issue. Bugger!

Time for some Q and A – let’s crack on

Paul Anthony Clarke asks:
My family and I just returned from the Carnival Pride and had a great time but with one exception and that is smoking. Surely the time has come for smoke-free cruising. We got so tired of walking through the smoky casino to get to the dining room or the Taj Mahal theater. Smoke also contaminated the air in every other bar and lounge, such as in the dining areas on the Lido, and could often be smelled even where the smokers couldn’t be seen. I suppose Carnival thinks people won’t gamble or drink if they can’t smoke. I think they’re wrong. Do everyone a favor, Carnival, and let us sail smoke-free. Smokers are parasites and if we as paying passengers should not have to be enveloped in their death clouds.

John says:
Hello Paul Anthony Clarke,
First of all, I do hope you had a great cruise and thank you also for taking the time to write. Smoking will always be a bone of huge contention and regardless of what we do it is impossible to make everyone happy. That may seem like an excuse but really it isn’t, it is a fact. If we did go totally smoke free we would no doubt lose lots of guests who would go elsewhere for their vacation and it is worth pointing out that none of the major cruise lines have yet to make a ship 100% smoke free. We try to do our best to appease both groups. I know there are sections of the casino where smoking is allowed but for the most part, all the lounges and bars inside are smoke free. There is no simple solution to this so for now, all I can do is apologise to you and hope that we will see you again very soon for another great cruise.
Best wishes.
John

Janet Alman asks:
We just sailed a Christmas cruise on the Carnival Breeze and had so much fun that we want to plan another holiday cruise for next year on the new Carnival Sunshine. One question, though: Will there be traditional early/late seating dining rooms on that ship? It is hard to tell from the video–it looks like just the new a la carte restaurants. Missed you on the Carnival Breeze, but Butch and Amy 6-3 were fantastic. Hope to see you next December!
–The Alman Family

John says:
Hello Janet Alman,
I am so glad to read that you had such fun on Carnival Breeze and that you are considering the Carnival Sunshine, as well. There is no doubt that anytime dining is getting more and more popular and I should also mention that in Europe with many late departure ports of call it is even more so. However we will have the usual early and late dining options in the forward dining room and anytime dining will be in the aft dining room. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I hope we get to sail together one day soon.
Best wishes.
John

Carole Palmer asks:
Hi John,
I enjoyed meeting you on the Carnival Breeze crossing last Nov. Wasn’t that awesome, gorgeous ship. My question is this. Is someone at Carnival keeping track of my cruises? I ask because when I went into my VIFP acct., it showed no cruise points. See you on the Legend in August.
Many thanks.

John says:
Hello Carole Plamer,
Yes, she is indeed a brilliant ship and it was a joy to meet you as well. I am sorry about the confusion and my colleague, the wonderful Mischelle, has merged your duplicate profiles so you should now be able to see your sailings when you log on to carnival.com. Please let me know if you need anything else and I hope to see you again soon.
Best wishes.
John

Scott Ursell asks:
Ha Ha Ha. Having just seen the photo of your bloggers group, I could not help laughing because most of the passengers who worship at the altar of John Heald are like you obese. Yes, Heald, you are the fat king, the leader of the blob bloggers. I will no doubt get flamed for writing this and there will be posts that say fat is beautiful. Just look in the mirror and tell me you really believe this? To deny this fact is delusional and to fail to do something about it is weak willed. If you really want to do something useful, then make the next bloggers cruise a Carnival’s Biggest Loser cruise. Ha ha ha.

John says:
Hello Scott Ursell,
I think I just found the winner of America’s Biggest Loser. Congratulations, mate, a solid gold plastic trophy and a fruit basket are on its way.
Best wishes.
John

Lori Lumley asks:
Dear John,
I haven’t heard anyone mention this, but hope you will know. Does Carnival have plans to follow the correct protocol for changing the Carnival Destiny to the Carnival Sunshine? It would be a terrible thing to disturb Poseidon!

http://www.boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/rename.htm

John says:
Hello Lori Lumley,
Thanks so much for your concern and we are all very much aware of the superstitions that go along with renaming a ship. This will be the second time we have done this within the fleet. The first time was when we changed the Carnivale to Fiesta Marina and there will be a naming ceremony for the Carnival Sunshine including a bottle break and a traditional blessing by a priest. Details of when this will take place and who the godmother will be are due to be released soon and I will let you know, of course. Thanks so much and please do not worry, Poseidon will be happy.
Best wishes.
John

Linda Jermyn asks:
I am writing to you to voice my disgust at the lack of privileges extended to the passengers who purchase suites on your cruises. My DH and I bought an ocean suite on the Carnival Liberty and were horrified to discover that apart from getting on the boat first that we had no other freebies or were treated any differently from other passengers. We expected to be seated in the main restaurant with other passengers who had bought suites but found ourselves with two other couples who were in inside cabins! This does not make sense and is not something you have to change. The lack of suite perks has been widely discussed on Cruise Critic and many experienced cruisers and Cruise Critic members such as my friends Tom and Cheryl all noted that Carnival is last on the list for suite privileges so this is something that Carnival has to change and change straight away or find the suites unsold.

John says:
Hello Linda Jermyn,
I can see that you feel very strongly about this so let me start by saying that I have passed your thoughts on to the beards in charge and thank you for taking the time to write. I should also mention that respectfully I am not sure why we should sit people at dinner according to what category of cabin they have purchased. I may be missing that point completely so if that is the case please would you let me know so I can discuss this further with you. I would also like to know what perks you would like that we do not offer as this may well be a point worthy of discussion and I think I will write about this later today on Facebook. I do thank you for sailing with us, I hope you had fun and enjoyed the wonderful suite and that we see you again soon. Until then your thoughts have indeed been passed to those in charge.
Best wishes.
John

Kristi asks:
Would you know the musical entertainment on board the Carnival Elation on July 18th sailing from New Orleans? I am told this is the cruise with Bands such as Bag of Donuts, CheeWeez, etc.

John says:
Hello Kristi,
This is indeed going to be a cruise with these guest bands and more on board. I don’t have all the details yet such as performance times etc., so please ask me four weeks before you sail and I will fill in all the details for you. I wish you the most wonderful time.
Best wishes.
John

Sadie Cortez asks:
I have read reviews that have said that there is no live music on the Carnival Paradise and we cruise there soon. Why has Carnival done this?

John says:
Hello Sadie Cortez,
Thanks for writing because it gives me the chance to expel the reviews that you have read and tell you there is indeed a variety of live music options on the ship. Here is an example of what you will enjoy on the first sea day;

GET YOUR GROOVE ON
CALYPSO MUSIC WITH SIMPLE VYBES
11:00am – 12:30pm & 2:15pm – 5:45pm Lido, 10 Mid
PIANO MUSIC WITH LUIGI
11:30am – 2:00pm & 6:15pm – 7:15pm Lobby, 7 Fwd
3:00pm – 4:00pm (Tea Time) America Piano Bar, 8 Fwd
LIDO DECK HITS & MIXES W/DJ MARLON
12:30pm – 2:15pm Lido, 10 Mid
KARAOKE FUN WITH ANGEL
3:00pm – 4:30pm Casino Bar, 9 Mid
8:30pm – late Leonardo, 9 Mid
MUSIC FROM A TO ZZ TOP WITH PAPA T
9:00pm – 12:00am Lobby, 7 Fwd
LIVE MUSIC WITH THE SHOWBAND
5:00pm – 6:00pm Casino Bar, 9 Mid
PARTY MUSIC WITH BLOOD POWER
7:00pm – 8:15pm & 9:30pm -10:15pm Casino Bar, 9 Mid
10:30pm- 11:15pm & 11:30pm – late Casino Bar, 9 Mid
SING A LONG PIANO MUSIC WITH DEWEY
9:00pm – Late America Bar, 8 Fwd
NIGHTCLUB HITS & MIXES WITH DJ MARLON

So, ignore the reviews that say no live music and enjoy all of the above and have loads of fun
Best wishes.
John

Andrew (Krusty) Mulye asks:
John,
Two comments / questions. First we are going on the Carnival Splendor April 8 and we were wondering if the ship would go to dry dock before then for the 2.0 upgrades? Can you comment on the dry dock schedule for the Carnival Splendor? Second we just got off the Carnival Miracle, Jan 17 – 25 and I wanted to mention Maguire’s bartender Gatoet Soesanto was the best! He was on top of everything, super fast and always made our day! The rest of the cruise was great but Gatoet stood out!! On and a side note, Customs sucks in NYC! I don’t think they even know how to do their job. Worst experience ever with them. But that’s not stopping us from going back!! We can’t wait for the Splendor in April!! Thanks for everything you and your team does across the fleet!!
Cheers!

John says:
Hello Andrew (Krusty) Mulye,
There are indeed certain challenges in New York one of which you just mentioned and we will continue to work hard to try and make the embarkation/debarkation process better before the Carnival Splendor arrives. Thanks so much for those great words for Gatoet and I will make sure both he and his supervisors see this. I am sure you will have loads of fun and if there is anything I can do before you cruise, please do let me know.
Best wishes.
John

Martin Whyte asks:
John,
I am curious to know and to understand why Carnival does not put tea and coffee making facilities in the cabins. Can you explain as this is a fall short in my opinion.

John says:
Hello Kent Whyte,
I think P&O does this as the Brits love this option but I am not sure if many would use it. I think I asked this once before on Facebook some time ago and maybe it’s worthy of discussion again. I am sure there may be some safety concerns but that aside I have to wonder what with complimentary coffee from room service and the same on Lido, how many guests would actually use them. Let’s see what others say and thanks for bringing this up.
Best wishes.
John

Kevin Cox asks:
This is just an itinerary suggestion. It would be nice if you could suggest to the beards to have the Carnival Fascination make occasional Bermuda trips. I have spoken to many people here in Florida who would like to cruise to Bermuda but don’t want to fly up north to do it. The Fascination is in Jacksonville and I believe is probably small enough to dock in Hamilton. That would also be an advantage as many people who have been to Bermuda love the Hamilton port. Anyway just a suggestion.

John says:
Hello Kevin Cox,
Suggestions are always welcome here and I will pass yours on to the beards. I know that there are operational concerns in getting pier space in Bermuda at the moment but let me pass this onwards and upwards. Thanks again and please feel free to send me any other questions and/or suggestions.
Best wishes.
John

Terry Hamilton asks:
John,
we are cruising on the Carnival Dream on the March 23 departure. We purchased Faster to the Fun. One of the benefits of FTTF is late debarkation; however the time for “late” is not given. We are arranging transportation from the port to the airport and want to stay on board as long as we can (to eventually be carried off kicking, screaming, and sobbing uncontrollably). Anyhow, my question is what time is late disembarkation?

John says:
Hello Terry Hamilton,
I am sure you will enjoy the Faster to the Fun program and late debarkation does need to be specified I think as it could be misunderstood. If you wish late debarkation please tell the Guest Services officers and they will give you the last number tag to be called. Those tags are attached to your bags which should be placed outside of your cabin no later than 11:30 pm on the last night of the cruise. You will then go ashore to claim them when the cruise director makes the last and final call which should happen at approximately 10:30 am. On hearing last and final you should proceed ashore. I do hope this helps and if you have any further questions, please let me know.
Best wishes.
John

That’s all for today and I will try my best to answer more questions later this week.

So here I am back home where I will remain until March 22 when I fly to join the Carnival Legend which will be my home to the end of the trans-Atlantic from Dover to New York……..
yep, a six-month contract. I can’t remember the last time I did one of those. Calvyn has been working on schedules for the trans-Atlantic from Tampa to Barcelona and meanwhile I have been to St. Petersburg to set up the excursions and to meet the port agents and the tour operators and I have to say that it was brilliant to be back.

It seems that St. Petersburg has lots of mega rich people and they all want to show it off as much as possible. I saw a huge Mercedes limo outside a restaurant guarded by two huge bodyguards with massive shoulders and no neck and, no doubt, armed and ready. St Petersburg is indeed like living in a Tom Clancy novel and you have to, yes, you have to visit this incomparable city of delights, surprises and intrigue. There is so much to see and today it’s hard to pick out a highlight although that could be The Hermitage. For those of you who are not aware of this wondrous place it’s a museum although calling it just a museum is like calling Daniel Day Lewis just an actor or Megan Fox’s bottom……ummm………just a bottom and not a jaw droppingly stunningly beautiful work of art that I would love to…….well you get the picture. The Hermitage used to be the palace of the tsars and now it contains possibly the greatest collection of paintings, jewelry, statues and rare items from all over the world. Everywhere you turn there are moments of “wow” and “Oh my goodness look at that!” and even stronger emotions when you enter the Throne Room from where the tsars ruled Russia. There are paintings by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Monet and in the Gold Room a collection of precious stone objects that are quite simply indescribable.

You need about two hours to see the Hermitage at a rush and more to enjoy and ponder every room and you actually walk 1.1 miles if you want to see the whole thing…… now don’t panic ……..I did so, therefore, can you. There are bathrooms that are pristine and are free and a coat room where coats and large bags are collected as they are not allowed to be brought into the museum. You also have to wear over shoes, plastic protection for safe feet. This is of course to stop damage to the marble floors and to stop bits of chewing gum and bits of Cocker Spaniel poo being trodden in. These plastic coverings are also needed in some of the cathedrals, as well.
In a moment I am going to highlight one of our excursions but before I do let me remind all of you who will be joining me this Baltic season on the rules that must be followed when getting off the ship in St. Petersburg.

In order to get off the ship guests must have one of the following. A tour ticket purchased from the vessel or a full Russian tourist visa in their passports. Now, I have seen a comment on my Facebook page that stated that an independent tour operator promised to have a visa waiting for you. This may well be true, however, you cannot disembark unless you have that visa in your passport. Every guest has to go through immigration every time they disembark the vessel and if you do not have a visa or a tour ticket you will not be allowed ashore. If you have booked an independent tour make sure that you have what is called an official invitation printed out ready to show the immigration officials.

The new terminal in St. Petersburg is superb and a vast step forward from when we were last here on the Carnival Splendor in 2008. Like then I will have the guests on the grand tour (more on that in a moment) leave the ship first and before we allow guests on independent tours ashore. This will, I am sure, upset a few guests but I have to in this one port give priority to those who have spent money to purchase this excursion. I am expecting there to be around 700 guests on that one tour which has to leave on arrival to fit everything we offer and once they have left the ship we will allow independent guests ashore. The new terminal is, as I said, superb and includes some gift shops and a coffee shop. Here is a photo of the new terminal and of one the 16 immigration booths every guest must pass through.
photo (1)

photo
So, just to recap, all guests need a current passport, tour ticket and if not on a ships tour an official invitation from a recognised tour operator. If you do not have these, you will not be allowed ashore, not because I say so but the chap with the frying pan hat on his head and the AK47 in his hand. Guests are not allowed just to get in a taxi and say…..”Take me downtown.” This is a destination where you will want to take an excursion and the best of the best is the grand tour. This is over two days during which you will visit the must see locations in St. Petersburg. Here is the full description

DAY 1: Experience the best of St. Petersburg on an excursion created especially for you to see as much of St Petersburg as you can in two days! On Day 1 your motor coach will take you from the pier on to a panoramic city tour, taking in many of the famous historical sites. Pass the Palace Square and the Baroque Winter Palace. View the Spit of Vasilievsky Island, flanked by two Rostral Columns on your way to the Peter and Paul Fortress for a guided inside visit of its Cathedral. Inside the rich interior of the cathedral, you will find a large collection of war trophies from conquered cities. It also serves as a burial place for the Tsars. Continue on past the Artillery Museum and then stop for a photo opportunity at the Aurora cruiser, which signaled the start of the revolution in 1917 by firing a single blank shot from its bow gun. Certainly a highlight of your day will be a visit to the Church of Resurrection on the Spilled Blood in all of its colorful glory! Browse for souvenirs and gifts and bargain with local vendors at the various stops during your excursion. Move into Nevsky Prospect, Russia’s most famous street for its magnificent palaces and shops, later passing Decembrists Square with its majestic equestrian statue of Peter the Great. Enjoy a delicious Russian lunch at one of St Petersburg finest restaurants. Finally, no visit to St Petersburg would be complete without a visit to the Hermitage Museum. Founded in 1764 as a private museum of Catherine the Great to which only she and her closest courtiers had access, today it is Russia’s largest art museum that owns an astounding collection of about 3 million pieces of art. The collection occupies four buildings: the Winter Palace, former official residence of the imperial family, the Small Hermitage, the only custom-built museum which served as Catherine’s retreat from the bustle of the court, the Old Hermitage and the New Hermitage opened to public in 1852. Enjoy a guided visit here before you are taken back to the ship in plenty of time to get ready for any evening tour you may have chosen.

Day 2: Will begin with an hour drive to Pushkin, the most brilliant of all the former summer residences of the Russian tsars, enjoy your guided tour of the beautiful Catherine Palace which contains a series of magnificent rooms, including, of course, the Throne Room. Of special interest is the Amber Room of the palace that was once considered to be the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Preserved photographs and archives helped the Russian art experts to fashion thin amber pieces so that they exactly match the original in shape and color and to carve fine ornaments, after the looting by the Nazi army in the Second World War, thus recreating this legendary work of art once more. The eye is mesmerized and blinded by the wealth and warmth of the amber tones, from lemony yellow to deep red. After the guided tour of the palace you will enjoy a short walk in the beautiful gardens, taking in the 1400 acres of grounds that are dotted with charming pavilions set around the central lake. Next, enjoy a traditional Russian lunch at one of the best local restaurants before driving back to the city to board your canal boat. Your 60 minute cruise will have you pass under numerous picturesque bridges and have you admire the exteriors of many beautiful buildings in St Petersburg. Finally, visit the St Isaac’s Cathedral, one of the world largest cathedrals and the focal points and landmarks of the city. You will be impressed by the vast and opulent interior which covers 43,000 square feet and filled with hundreds of imposing 19th century works of art.

Is it trying? Yes. Is it rewarding and will it leave you with a feeling that you have truly immersed yourself in the culture and history and vodka of St. Petersburg. Yes, absolutely yes. This tour will take you to a world of mosaics, huge luminous pillars of jade and palaces full of opulence and to a city that is quite simply……staggering.

I am glad the Carnival Legend will be there in the summer because bugger me St. Petersburg was sodding freezing last week with temperatures as low as -12C. Now I am built for the cold and headed out of the hotel wearing thick socks, sturdy mountain shoes and two pairs of underpants. The weather was colder than a penguin’s scrotum yet that did not seem to bother the local and may I say stunningly beautiful women. Some were walking the streets shopping and heading to work in thin tights and short skirts and under that skirt was probably Tinkerbell’s G- string. They didn’t seem to care about the cold and carried on regardless. I love St. Petersburg and you will love it too. I did love the fact that in Russia, plush cigar bars are everywhere and to be able to sink back into a large leather chair and enjoy the long ashes of a Monte Cristo Edmundo was pure luxury. I know smoking is a contentious subject (as we saw today in a comment from Paul Anthony Clarke) but I admit, I like the way cigars blurs the edges. I may eat my words when I’m pushing my lungs around in a wheelbarrow, but temporary relief from anxiety can surely sometimes be healthy ………can’t it?

Goodnight.
Your friend,
John

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58 Responses to HOME WORK………………….AND THE GRAND TOUR

  1. sean says:

    Seriously??? You should eat only with someone that shares your same room class?? What a arrogant a$$! I usually get a balcony room. And I already know I wouldnt want to sit with your sorry snobbish a$$.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Sounds wonderful! See you on July 3rd.

  3. Karen Youngberg says:

    Hi John, I sent a ? to your blog (I think, or FB page…) yesterday about the Sunshine. We have been on 22 CCL cruises, last was Miracle out of NY, our homeport, on 2/10. We are booked on the Splendor for 5/9 and again for 2/21/14! Destiny was our lst CCL cruise in 1998. We also sailed on her in 2000. I was wondering if the new Sunshine might be coming to NY for a few cruises like the Dream did when she was lst debuted. We were on one of her cruises from NY before she went to FL. TIA and happy cruising! We would NEVER cruise with ANYONE but Carnival!!! Karen Youngberg

  4. John and Susan says:

    Hello John,

    Susan and I just returned from our trip on the Destiny as she took her final trip across the Atlantic. I just wanted to let you know that it was by far the best cruise we have taken. Noonan worked hard to have a variety of activities as we had 9 days at sea. He is to be congratulated…he and the entire entertainment did a great job. Noonan did something that I found great. I know this is difficult but he was at the gangway as we left the ship for the final time to say “Thank-You”. CD’s have many things to do on turn around day but I thought this personal touch was great. The food of course was outstanding and our cabin attendants were wonderful. Carnival really did a great job on this cruise. A suggestion. Go through the Gibralter straits during daylight hours. About 1000 of us got up at 3am to stand on deck and see Africa and Spain at the same time. It was cool but would have been better during the day. The tours were great and Susan and I could not have had a better time. One question for you….could someone explain the milestone program. We are taking our 24th cruise in September and are wondering about the rules and rewards for the 25th. Thanks John for what you do and we look forward to our next cruise.

    John & Susan from Frisco, Tx

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

      Just wanted to echo what a wonderful CD Noonan is. We have cruised with him for years and he is indeed one of the BEST!!

      Also, by reaching Milestone on your 25th cruise, you get a 25% discount on that cruise OR on a future cruise (the choice is yours).

      You should be getting a letter in the mail with the discount code.

      Congrats on your next cruise bringing you to the Milestone level.

      Linda (Mom of DJ)

  5. Linda Jermyn – you don’t buy a suite you rent one and you can take your demands elsewhere. I, for one, have no desire to be seated with stuck up elitists such as yourself. Tom and Cheryl, being billionaires, can easily afford to buy whatever perks they want. As it is, they usually eat in the steakhouse, anyway.

  6. Sue Parlo says:

    I only recently, saw your blog, and Facebook page! What an informative, hilarious and joy!To read! Love the comments, some of the ideas, and hate the rudeness of some..oh well, guess you just can’t please everyone!(I smoke..and although I try to be as inoffensive as I can…..)
    We are looking forward to meeting you, will be on the transatlantic, as well as the second leg, Barcelona to Venice! An early 45 th wedding anniversary gift to us!!
    Is the entertainment the same on a TA? We are on cruise critic, and although I asked (134 pages) I don’t know if it was answered! Just wondering! We always wonder how you pick people for certain things, and how to ever get involved! Been on a few Carnival Cruises, and still keep on comin back!
    Hope you keep on making me laugh..looking forward to meeting you!

  7. Helene Apper says:

    Back to the coffeepot in the room question- I still vote yes for this. By the time the coffee gets to you from room service, it is usually warm to luke warm. I used to bring my own 4 cup coffeemaker on board. They won’t let me do that anymore :( So yes, I think the coffee pots will get used if placed in the room. I think it is the thought of a fire hazard that is preventing them from being placed there. Most hotels I have been to recently have put Keurig machines in their rooms. It is a nice little perk.

  8. John. I enjoy reading your blogs very much. Keep up the great work.
    On the subject of coffee/tea makers in the rooms: That is one (minor) complaint we have. Seems Room service can take forever, (especially on shore days) and it is always a hassle to go up to Lido or wherever to get our own coffee.. My DW and I both enjoy our coffee when we first wake up and this would be a huge improvement in my humble opinion. Just got off a BTB in Jan on the Dream. We are looking at cruising again in Sep/Oct Hope you have this in place by then.

  9. Joe McChik says:

    When I don’t want to eat with the Riff Raff I sail NCL in a Heaven Suite!

  10. Barrick Ryan says:

    This is to Linda Jermyn who thinks that because she is in a suite that she should not have to set in the MDR with those low life people who are in inside cabins, really? You think you are that special? I have 40 Carnival cruises, over 300 sea days and I don’t think I am any better than the first time cruiser, yes I do get some nice perks and I thank Carnival for them, but I am no better than anyone else, nor is anyone better than me, unlike you Ms. Jermyn.

    • Beth says:

      Suite Perks~ We usually get a suite because we have an autistic child who requires alot of space! I enjoy sitting next to the “low life folks” in the MDR!! LOL Matter of fact, we had the Captain’s Suite on the Liberty once and pulling into the Grand Cayman had almost the whole Port Side in our stateroom to enjoy the amazing views… we share what we can!! I enjoy conversations and feel we are no better than anyone else. I also have one issue. I cannot get my VIFP cruises to show up on the website no matter how many phone calls I make. Would love help with that. Thanks for the blog!

  11. Patty Martin says:

    Scott Ursell,
    I have no problems with people of all walks of life…But you sir (and I use that term loosley) should be in the ahole Hall of fame!
    Maybe you think that you are perfect…but your personality speaks otherwise….Get a life…No Im not fat and quite the cutie…but I would never bash someone because of their weight..or their looks..just their actions…Enjoy the trophy that was sent to you…You deserve it…Way to go John Heald

  12. Dawn says:

    Well John, I am a member of Cruise Critic. Great place to get information and research my next cruise! Obviously something Linda Jermyn didn’t do. Yes there is lots of discussion about suite perks, and if you ever read them I’m sure you’d note that most people are perfectly happy with how Carnival keeps the “class system” out of its product. But then most of us who cruise Carnival don’t pack an outrageous sense of entitlement when we go on vacation.

    • Linda Leach says:

      Well said, Dawn! We are leaving in three weeks on Carnival cruise #27 and feel the same excitement for every cruise. We are the same as everyone else and never expect special treatment.

  13. Helene Barnes says:

    Dear Scott – I too have some weight to lose and yes I have booked the next bloggers cruise with my hubby. While you may attack us that like to read John’s blog and cruise with John – I think what you are truly missing is that all of those folks that you saw in the picture are happy and full of life and fun. The bloggers are nice people who would never attack anyone in such a racist fashion. So Scott I’d like to publically state that I’d much rather be overweight and a nice person having fun with other Carnival folks that like to have fun than be a miserable pathetic mean sod such as yourself.

    John thanks for all the great info on Russia – it is now on the bucket list!

  14. Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

    Sadie Cortez

    Not to worry about Music..

    Blood Power ROCKS.

    AND. You also have Papa T …. Who also. ROCKS!!

  15. Chris Phillips says:

    Has anyone checked to see if Ruth Dewitt Bukater has been reincarnated as Linda Jermyn? If she really wants to insist on keeping people segregated by class, I hear that guy rebuilding the Titanic is planning to have a steerage class for us common folk.

  16. Travis Maxfield says:

    @Linda Jermyn, why compare Carnival to other lines with regards to suite perks? Do you pay the same amount of money for a suite on Carnival as opposed to the other lines? Not likely, you probably pay far less. So you want to pay less money and still get all the perks of the higher priced lines?

  17. Linda C says:

    We should not give John “the biggest loser” Ursell the time of day nor the pleasure of discussing his crassness. He is probably a very short, very very tiny little being who wishes he could be as grande as those who were blessed to be on the B6 Cruise.

  18. grace says:

    Hi John,

    In response to the live music question a DJ and Karaoke is not considered live music. Live music is when people are playing instruments and singing.

  19. Becky says:

    We just got off the Carnival Valor on Sunday and were wondering why we leave the ports so early when the next island is so close and we take a ’round-about way to get there. We would love to stay later in ports!
    Second, just want to say what a great job Peter and Dario did in the Lincoln Dining room, having to put up with my crazy family, as well as Roberto, our cabin steward, on the main deck. These gentlemen made our week great and that much more enjoyable!!

  20. Jeanette says:

    The tour sounds amazing and the idea of cruising with you as a CD would be nice. I must get with the real world and wake up from the fantasty world. As much as I want to do a Northern Europe cruise, the cost is outrageous and as a single person pay a mortgage and all the bills, I can scrape up enough to afford seven days in the Caribbean and that is as good as it will get……

    I’ll have to accept that if I want to view these amazing buildings it will have to be with Google Earth Street View only….

  21. Nancy Saville says:

    Paul Anthony Clarke-are non-smokers the only ones who have to pay for their cruise? I had to pay for the last cruise I went on, so as a “paying apssenger” I have rights also. I smoke only where it is allowed, and even then ask those around me if it bothers them. I also pay extra so I can have a private balcony to smoke on-and make sure the neighbors aren’t bothered. There are smoking areas for a reason….for smokers! If you don’t want to walk through smoky areas, then stay away from the FEW smoking areas that are left. Happy Cruising!

    • grammyB says:

      Nancy – on a recent cruise on the Elation the entire casino was smoky even though there were limited areas to smoke. People like myself who are allergic to smoke need to avoid smoky areas. The casino was never busy. Perhaps others besides myself avoided the casino altogether due to the smoke. So even though the areas you may smoke are limited, the areas I breathe in are all over the ship.

      • MarkinFL says:

        This is of course why “smoking sections” have never really worked. Smoke is notorious for ignoring the rules and going where it is unwanted.

    • Joan says:

      I’ve always said that having a non-smoking section in any room is like having a non-peeing section in a pool. It just doesn’t work.

  22. Mike says:

    Linda Jermyn – Just because some of us book inside cabins does not make us lesser people, as you seem to be suggesting. I book inside cabins because they are cheap, and I prefer to use the money I save on my cabin for the more opulent things in life. Additionally, other than sleeping and showering, I don’t spend any time in my cabin, so I can’t imagine why I would possibly want a suite. I can say this, however….if, per chance, we get seated together for dinner on a mutual sailing, you can be assured that you won’t have to eat with us. We will immediately ask to be re-seated as we only sit with nice people.

  23. vee says:

    to Linda Jermyn: bragging that you are a friend of Tom’s isn’t anything to be proud of. He made a joke about the 100 people who died in the nightclub fire during a Great White concert. He is the lowest of the low.

    • Steve says:

      For the dense, and by that I mean me, who are these Tom and Cheryl characters?

    • Linda (Mom of DJ) says:

      Vee:

      Sorry I must disagree with you about Tom.

      I have cruised with them many times and met them in port for lunch when we were on different ships and any cruel “joke” you think Tom made about such a thing was a total misunderstanding on your part.

      IF you had ever spent even a minute of time with them, you would know that.

      And to call someone the “lowest of the low” that you do not even know…well, that does indeed say more about you, then it does about Tom.

  24. Teresa Cooper says:

    To Linda Jermyn,

    I’m sorry you feel you are too good to dine with people like me and my husband who always book an inside cabin. Perhaps you would have been happier on the Titanic where you could have dined with your class.

  25. Steve says:

    John, love your response to Scott Ursell. I laughed so hard I spit some of my coffee out. Rock on.

    Steve

  26. MarkinFL says:

    Once again John is being purposely obtuse to avoid calling Linda Jermyn a complete snob. I’m still not sure that someone is not just trolling with these ridiculous messages. I’ve used Cruise Critic for about 8 years and have never heard anyone complain that guests with Suites should be treated like a special class of citizen. People discuss which perks are available for the cost which is normal, but I’ve never read anything like the level of snobbery exhibited by Linda’s post. Its so over the top that it is hard to believe that it is sincere. If its honest then I feel very sorry for the poor couples that were seated with this complete a**.

  27. Kathleen Hagan says:

    Hi John.
    Enjoy reading your entertaining and informative blogs.
    We were hoping to take a cruise on the Pride out of Baltimore on April 14th. But at the end of the booking process the Carnival agent informed me that we would be assigned the late meal seating. When I asked if we could choose anytime dining as 8:15 is too late for us to eat I was informed that also would be waitlisted. So sorry to say we did not go ahead with the booking.
    I was quite suprised that anytime dining would require a “waitlist”
    Continue writing and we hope to return to Carnival one of these days.
    Kathy

  28. jgeraci says:

    John,
    Welcome back! It’s great to have a real blog to read once again. Your descriptions of St. Petersburg bring back fond memories of our cruise on Splendor. We did use a Russian approved tour company which supplied us with the necessary paperwork beforehand. But I urge everyone to be very sure that you don’t miss this once in a lifetime chance by not following the rules.
    My favorite place was also The Hermitage. I would recommend that people read up on the history of St. Petersburg before going there. It makes viewing all the sites much more enjoyable.
    I’m looking forward to seeing you again when we join the Legend in Sept.
    JoyceG

  29. Jess says:

    Wow. There are three things that stuck out in this blog for me.
    1. The lovely person who felt obligated to comment on others appearence. I would love to see what this roman god of a person looks like.
    2. People being seated with their “class”. I sure hope I never have to cross paths with them. I don’t go on vacation often but when I do I go all out and I am afraid my liberal redneck ways might offend them. Probably not a good idea to sit us with eachother.
    3. Russia. I never thought of Russia as a place to visit but the photos and experiences you have shared have made me want to go.

    You are hilarious and fun. I hope that I get the opportunity to cruise with you sometime.

  30. annabelle kennedy says:

    good morning john—FYI–today marks 30 years I have sailed (and sold) CARNIVAL!!over 100 cruises—is that enough to get a “solid gold plastic trophy’??sailing May 5 on the SUNSHINE–took the maiden voyage when it was the Destiny–great memories Thanks Carnival!!

  31. Meowsmurphy says:

    Hey John,,,I’d be happy to sit with Linda Jermyn at the “suite table”….wonder how she’d like the fact that I have no teeth, chew with my mouth open, don’t use deodorant and always wear jeans to dinner….SERIOUSLY..what an elitist snob attitude…are suite passengers any better than those that sail in an inside cabin..I THINK NOT!!!..BTW I’ve sailed in all categories and met many many fantastic people from all walks of life and their cabin choices have been all over the ship..seems that Linda might have to look elsewhere if she keeps up that attitude..

  32. Frances Vickerstaffe says:

    To the writer of purchaseing a suite on the cruise they went on. I think they are a little out of order and snobby. What makes you think you are any better than a person that purchases an inside cabin. Wealth and buying extras does not make the man. Just be content with enjoying your cruise and dont expect all the freebies. Perhaps getting freebies has got you where you are today being cheap then flaunting wealth. There is nothing worse than a jumped up snob.

  33. Ralph says:

    Scott Ursell,

    “Look in the mirror”…yourself. You will see that..yes…it is possible….to have a horses a**…..attached to a human neck!

  34. Eileene says:

    John, an excellent blog, as usual. Especially liked your responses to some of the more obnoxious petitioners – you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din! Thanks for the laughs & info, John.

  35. Richard Taylor says:

    I cruised on the Paradise when it was totally smoke free. Halcyon days. I understand that the pro tobacco lobby is too powerful for smoke free anything, due to their intense pushing of the death sticks. My father, a heavy smoker, died of emphysema so I hate being in the presence of smoking.
    But, surely if Carnival has to pander to it, to extract every last cruise guest, then it would be easy to better organise the smoking allowed areas. Strong extractor fans to immediately remove the smoke from shared areas and smoking on balconies on only one side of the ships would be a big help.

  36. Sandy Schubert says:

    To Linda Jermyn- I don’t understand what a cabin has to do with the type of people you are at dinner with. I don’t find that coming up in conversation with my table mates. I think you should just get your own table because your nose is to high in the air for the rest of us.

  37. Sandy Schubert says:

    To Scott Ursell- This is the most disgusting and rude comment I have ever seen. You should be ashamed.
    John you are my favorite stout CD.

  38. Terry Mackel says:

    Welcome back John

    I’ve been going through blog withdraw for 3 weeks. Now I have something to read until Sunday (March 17) or until my cruise start in San Juan on the Valor. I can’t wait to be sailing on the Valor again.

    Thanks again for your blog.

    Terry Mackel

  39. Teresa Cooper says:

    To Scott Ursell,

    My original comment did not pass moderation so I guess John deemed it to be too harsh. John is a decent man who does not want this comment section to degenerate into name calling and mudslinging. Let me rephrase what I said in a more civilized manner. The last “acceptable” prejudice is that against fat people. It is just as wrong to attack someone for their weight as it is to attack them for the color of their skin. What you said was just plain mean. I don’t like mean people. John’s weight has nothing to do with the kind of person he is or how well he does his job. He bends over backwards on a daily basis trying to make Carnival passengers happy in any way possible. And if you don’t like him then why are you reading his blog anyway??? No one is forcing you to be here.

  40. Cynthia says:

    Hi John, love reading your blog! We met you a few years back when we did a 12 day out of Rome. We had a great time and have cruised several times since but unfortunately not with you so we are very excited that we are booked on the June 21st sailing of The Legend out of Dover. We will be doing the Grand Tour while in St. Petersburg and are also thinking of doing the night at the ballet we are concerned that this might be over doing it. what do you recommend? I am also reading up on all the other ports and planning our excursions! See you soon!

  41. Mike says:

    Helene -> Keurig is a fantastic idea. I agree with you; often not hot when you get it via room service (cream and coffee are same temp). I often walk up to Lido deck for manual, but this isn’t very convenient. Plus now I have to put cloths on :(

  42. Joe says:

    Hi John,

    Will the Legend have any theme parties or menu changes to reflect the cruise environment of the baltic countries this summer?
    Thanks

  43. Dave Bowman says:

    John,

    My wife and I are several of your biggest fans, but respectfully disagree about the Carnival excursion being given priority debarking in St. Petersburg. We are Platinum Cruisers and almost always book our excursions through Carnival. This trip we have opted to book a “Grand St. Petersburg” excursion through a private tour operator. We believe we should have the right to debark at the same time we would in any other port. A full time schedule for our tour is equally of concern as would our time if it were a Carnival Tour. Thanks for your consideration.

  44. Robin says:

    HI JOhn- I just wanted to say that I love reading your blog, and look forward to meeting you in the future. I just have a quick question for you. Is there any way to buy a porthole from the Destiny? I would love to add this to the decor in my house (laundry shute maybe??)…since we loved cruising her in 2011, and will cruise again on her when she becomes Sunshine for my sons wedding next year. If this is possible, please let me know. Thanks, and keep up the great work.

  45. Cliff Bennett says:

    Hi, John. I must say, you are a hoot. I knew your name and your affiliation with Carnival but did not realize you are a walking, talking, working CD until now. What hidey-hole have I been living in?

    We are sailing the 24th with you on the Legend, with several of our grown children and partners, and are psyched that you’ll be pushing buttons and pulling strings and overseeing the grand orderly chaos of our cruise.

    I agree an occasional cigar can be divine, much as the well-turned ankle or phrase. Your pitch on St. Petersburg makes me want to get serious about saving enough holiday time to make a voyage such as that. One of my go-to nostalgia movies is The Russia House with Mr. Connery’s scotch-soaked love of All Things Russian.

    Thanks for taking the time to share thoughts and ruminations with us. You’ve got a drink or two on me at a Legend bar if we cross paths. Regards, Cliff

  46. Scott Lindsay says:

    John,

    We’ll be joining you on the Legend in Venice the first weekend in May. Athough I was born here in the Colonies, I was raised by proud Glaswegians (they never forgave James VI), so I very much enjoy the classic British humour you employ in your blog.

    I just wanted to say that your mini-travelogue of St. Petersburg is making me reconsider a Baltic cruise. Some of the ports in that region seem a little lackluster compared to the Med, but we’re going to need to rethink that area after your brilliant (have Brits stopped using “super”?) description of St. Pete.

    Cheers,

    Scott

  47. betty bruton says:

    hello again saw you last year on the maiden voyage to rome ,florence greece turkey etc.. will be on the legend on 7/3 i have a question want to go to peterhof/hermitage/catherine’s palace and inside the church of the spilled blood. i do not think the 2 day tour does peterhof –what do you recommend???? thank you betty bruton

  48. Melissa Hampton says:

    John, My daughter and I are sailing on the Legend on June 21st. What is the best way to find out more information on the excursions? I usually depend on fellow cruiser reviews but there are no reviews available. I am hoping for a city tour or combination of tours that visit inside the Church of Resurrection on the Spilled Blood, the Hermitage including the Gold Room, and Catherine’s Palace.

    The 2 day city tour says “Certainly a highlight of your day will be a visit to the Church of Resurrection on the Spilled Blood in all of its colorful glory!” Does this mean just an outside stop, a drive by, or is there time to visit inside?

    Many of the tours include a stop at the Hermitage, which area(s) of the Hermitage do they visit? Some of the tours clearly indicate which area will be visited but others just indicate a guided tour, do they all visit the same areas? Do any include a visit to the Gold Room except the one 4 hour tour that is Hermitage and Gold Room excursion?

    Finally (at least for now), most of the excursions indicate an activity level of “difficult”. How difficult is difficult? I’m assuming lots of walking on uneven surfaces and stairs, but is there a way to find out how far and how many stairs?

    I checked TripAdvisor, CruiseCritic, and a couple of other sites which were mostly promoting purchasing non-Carnival tours and I really prefer to book with Carnival.

    Thanks!!! Melissa

    • Leonard Cole says:

      John, is there any truth to the rumor about diamond members getting to use the upgrade perk or just tax for 3rd & 4th person, more than one time in their life? Or is it just a bunch of hogwash, dreams, and scuttlebutt?? We have spent mucho bucks to reach Diamond status and I think use of it more than once we are entitled to. I have 271 sea daysand am going again in October for 8 days on Freedom.

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